LGBT Pride in Zagreb, capital of Croatia

LGBT Pride in Zagreb, capital of Croatia

Gay couples in Croatia are celebrating after finally being granted legal recognition of their relationships.

On Tuesday, Croatia’s parliament passed a Law on Life Partnership, giving same-sex unions most of the same rights that married couples enjoy.

The law was overwhelmingly passed with 89 votes for and 16 against, reports ILGA Europe.

The move comes after 65 percent of voters chose to constitutionally define marriage exclusively as a “union between a man and a woman” in a referendum last December, in effect banning the legalisation of gay marriage.

However, the new legislation defines the statutory rights of same-sex couples in much the same way as married couples, in areas including inheritance, pensions, tax and medical care.

One concern remains that the law does not allow same-sex couples the right to adopt. It does gives those that already live with children the same rights as other couples.

“Life partnership is made in every way equal to marriage, even regulating children already living in same-sex unions,” commented Marko Jurcic, from the Zagreb Pride organisation, adding that adoption rights remained the only essential area of difference.

“Adoption was ruled out as a possibility from the beginning, so it is not a surprise,” he said.

“What surprised us is that life partnership has been much better defined than we could have imagined,” he said, noting that the law “actually defined a same-sex union as a form of family.”

“We’re very pleased, this is a huge step forward for Croatia,” Jurcic added.

The European Union had in recent years pressured the predominately Catholic country to improve its LGBT rights as a condition for joining the union in 2013.

In 2012, the European Commission’s Progress Report on Croatia stated that “Lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people still face discrimination and even threats and attacks”.

However, according to a report by ILGA-Europe last year, Croatian officials had “continued to gradually improve the human rights situation for LGBTI people.”

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